You can tell the holiday season is approaching by the price tags in the Vintage release. The French features in this release easily run $50 + topping out at $257.95 for a Super Tuscan. Because of the emphasis on richest of French, American and Italian wines, some of the best values in my target range (under $35.00) are Canadian! There is also a controversial Tuscan Red scored at 99 points for $28.95.
If any of the following recommendations pique your interest, check for availability in your region by entering the product # and your postal code in this link to the LCBO Product Search.
BURMESTER 10-YEAR-OLD TAWNY PORT, DOP, Portugal
#223958 Score 95 $28.95
Richard Mayson of decanter.com describes ‘Mature orange colour and seductive aromas of fruit cake, honey and a touch of spice. Mellifluous, smooth and suave palate yet beautifully fresh with a dusting of tannic spice on the finish.
There is also a Fonseca Vintage Port 2009 #256875 that Neal Martin of robertparker.com scored 95 for $58.95. Compare that to Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011 (Portugal) 87551 Score 92 $18.95 from the Oct. 28th release. You decide how much the extra 3 points are worth!
DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2014 (Riverina, New South Wales, Australia)
#917252 Score 96 @29.95
This is a 375 ml bottle but a little goes a long way, this is such a rich after dinner sipper. Botrytis is a very specific attribute. It lends a musky (in a good way) depth of flavour that cannot be mistaken. Once you fall in love with it …there is no going back.
Botrytis is a fungus with a dual personality… a grey, wet mold will result in the loss of the grape bunches. However, when the damp weather is followed by a dry conditions, the Botrytis infection is known as “noble rot”. The fungus removes water from the grapes, leaving behind a higher percent of solids, such as sugars, fruit acids and minerals. This results in a more intense, concentrated final product.
Toni Paterson of therealreview.com describes ‘This Noble One Botrytis Semillon is as satisfying and delicious as ever. Honeyed pear, scented vanilla and subtle spice enlivened by gentle lemon tones. It has great depth of flavour and an open and generous middle. A flavoursome, balanced dessert wine that, despite its very high sugar level, is not cloying or over-sweet. Lovely now but will also cellar well into the future. Drink date: now to 2034. Ranked #2 of 61 2014 Sémillon from New South Wales.
FLAT ROCK CELLARS RIDDLED SPARKLING 2010 (VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario)
383315 Score 95 $34.95
This was a standout at the Taste Ontario exhibition earlier this year. My tasting notes :The traditional method, attention to detail, and 5 years on the lees is paying off with this sparkling. Ontario should be proud of this livey, subtley yeasty sparkling. A creamy palate with an acid backbone. A very elegant sipper. Think puff pastry hors d’oevres and paté with toast points.
Notes from Decanter ‘Seriously classy sparkling wine offering harmonious complexity in its aromas of white flowers, yellow apple, citrus and stone fruits and toasty, buttered brioche. Refreshing acidity complements the ripe, expansive palate which ends on pears and honey.’
FLAT ROCK NADJA’S VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 ( VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario)
578625 Score 92 $24.95
This was a Platinum Medal winner at the 2017 National Wine Awards of Canada. Remy Charest from winealign.com describes ‘A truly remarkable wine, with floral notes, pear and something like old parchment, along with a touch of flint. On the palate, it’s generous and balanced, with great length and an elegant, pretty, flavorful finish.
CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES PAUL BOSC ESTATE CHARDONNAY 2013 (VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario)
287268 Score 90 $24.95
David Lawrason of winealign.com says “This is a surprisingly rich yet poised chardonnay with some elegance. The nose shows nicely woven, generous aromas of toasted nuts, vanilla fudge, marzipan, baked apple and lemon. Lovely creamy almost satiny texture with fine acidity and some warmth and spice on the finish. The length is excellent.’
DECOY SONOMA COUNTY SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 (Sonoma County, California, USA)
515122 Score 89-90 $29.95
MaryAnn Worobiec, of winespectator.com describes ‘The Key lime, citrus zest, honeydew melon and green apple flavors are juicy and lively, with a refreshing finish.
CORTE MEDICEA ATHOS 2014 (IGT Toscana, Italy)
475996 Score 99 $28.95
Lots of controversy around this wine and the score of 99. Different reviewers score from 88, 89, 91, 95 with Luca Maroni’s 99 being the highest. You can see his homage to this wine below. Other reviewers on the positive side suggest it is worth 2 – 3 X the price. Detractors scoff at the 99 rating, saying it lacks depth, is sweetly thick in the mouth.
I have to admit … my curiosity is getting the best of me .. so I will be searching this one out to try.
Luca Maroni, Annuario dei Migliori Vini Italiani , 2017 notes:
Sensations: a truly magnificent wine in all its determining qualitative aspect, hence archetypal, able to move the sensory receptors in unusual and imperfectable ways. The first mirage is its colour: a bluish blackish violet which prevents any filtering at every luminous ray. The second high- point of its fluid is viscosity and thickness. The balance is between smoothness, acidity and tannin, of spherical harmonious perfection. Finally the sweet fragrance of so much black, essential, creamy liquor. A fragrance of sap and unfading blackberry pulp, a sweetness spiced by the oak of outstanding purity and calibration. Highest winegrowing and/or oenological compositional virtues. There is nothing more pleasurable than to taste the impressive sensorial reverberations. Congratulations, one of the best ever red wines.
PEPPER TREE MERLOT 2014 (South Australia)
520528 Score 94 $22.95
James Halliday of winecompanion.com says ‘While the wine is no more than medium-bodied, it has life and lift that immediately grab attention, allied with a seductive mix of red and blackcurrant fruit, oak spice and dried bay leaf. Even the tannins are warm and inviting, the finish leaving the mouth in a good frame of mind. A surprise packet in every way. Drink By: 2024. Special Value. ‘
Other critics are not as generous in their ratings, ranging from 88-90. They seem to agree it is a pleasant enough sipper, though not necessarily typical of a Merlot.
DANDELION VINEYARDS LIONHEART OF THE BAROSSA SHIRAZ 2015 (Barossa, South Australia)
520544 Blue Gold Medal $46.95 (for 1 1/2 liters)
The Sydney International Wine Competition judges 2,000 wines. Approximately 200 finalists are then judged with food, and the top-showing wines earn the Blue Gold award. This wine was rated as one of the top 100 wines of the 2017 competition.
Tasting notes from the Sydney Wine Comptetion: Inky purple. The bouquet opens with aromas of blackberry jam. On the palate the wine is supple, plush and ripe with a juicy core of blackberries and supple ripe tannins. The wine remains unchanged when paired with the veal, the juicy core of blackberry fruit shining through.’
ALAMOS SELECCIÓN MALBEC 2014 (Uco Valley, Argentina)
322800 Score 92 $16.95
James Suckling of jamessuckling.com describes ‘A rich and flavorful red with blueberry, spice and walnut character. Full body, lots of fruit and a soft and balanced finish. This one is always delicious.’
FONTAINE DU CLOS CONFIDENCES 2014 (AP Côtes du Rhône, France)
498451 Score 91 $17.95
This wine is scoring consistently 90 -91 points and is unanimously voted a Special Value!
Joe Czerwinski of Wine Enthusiast says ‘This is mouthfilling but not overly weighty, with a wonderful blend of herbs and spices rounded out by cherries and plums. Intense garrigue notes pick up hints of anise on the long, softly dusty finish. Drink now-2020. Editors’ Choice.
Both Cellar Suggestions are white this time. This is the time to take advantage of some of the classic French offerings.
LA CHABLISIENNE GRANDE CUVÉE CHABLIS 1 ER CRU 2015 (Burgundy, France)
685222 Score 90 $31.95
Vintage notes: ‘Chablis’s 2015 vintage began with a rainy May followed by a very hot June, with stormy weather mid-month. July and August were hot and dry, promoting favourable stress on the vines. The resulting wines are ripe and generous, more so than those of 2014, and early indications are that they will drink exceptionally well when young and will continue to do so well into the mid to late ’20s. You can expect the Grande Cuvée Chablis Premier Cru to demonstrate this wine’s typical purity and elegance, with impressive aromatics, citrus and oyster shell notes and steely minerality.’
LE DOMAINE SAGET POUILLY-FUMÉ 2014 (AC Loire, France)
471540 Score 91 $25.95
Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast sys ‘A blend of four of the best parcels from the Saget estate, this is a rich and structured wine. Its apple, citrus and yellow fruit flavors are just beginning to integrate with the tight, steely texture. Drink this wine from 2018.